In a worldwide premiere, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) today unveiled the Sport Truck Concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. The Sport Truck Concept represents MMNA's interpretation of what a pickup truck can be: functional and fun to drive.
"The Sport Truck Concept helps redefine the pickup in terms of design, drivability, utility and content," said Dan Sims, general manager for Mitsubishi Motors Research and Design of America, MDA. "Concept vehicles are really design exercises that help us think outside the box. With the Sport Truck Concept, we've literally reshaped that box - the traditionally square and boxy pickup truck - into something that inspires passion," Sims said.
The coordination of aesthetics and performance - form and function - has long been the driving force behind Mitsubishi's success, and the Sport Truck Concept maintains that pattern, featuring a sporty, purposeful design inside and out.
"The Sport Truck Concept presents an urban vision of the light truck that is uniquely Mitsubishi in spirit and function," said MMNA Co-Chairman and CEO Finbarr O'Neill. "We've combined a radical design with a sophisticated, elegant interior to make it clear that Mitsubishi's view of the traditional pickup truck is anything but traditional."
The Sport Truck Concept's athletic monocoque body is wrapped around a supremely capable front-engine, full-time all-wheel-drive platform that offers all-weather capability. Taking the road less traveled, the concept is further enhanced with a four-wheel independent suspension, providing ride and handling characteristics that are clearly un-truck-like.
Passion starts with performance. And performance starts at the heart of the Sport Truck Concept, with a powerful V-8 engine mated to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission features a dial-type shifter knob which, rotated into the D+ mode, allows for sporty paddle shifting through controls mounted on the steering wheel.
Designed to appeal to urban customers who are always on the move, the Sport Truck Concept's exterior styling is sporty yet rugged; it offers the practical utility of a truck, yet the four-wheel independent suspension possesses the sophisticated ride and performance more commonly associated with sport sedans. The compact platform pushes the large, imposing 22-inch custom alloy wheels out to the corners of the vehicle to maximize interior space and create stable, responsive handling characteristics. Muscular fenders stretched over the massive wheels project an athletic form, and all four wheels benefit from powerful disc brakes.
The Sport Truck Concept's front bumpers express styling that has rapidly come to define Mitsubishi Motors's global corporate truck identity. They also address safety: in the event of an accident, the truck's lower fascia features a second bumper surface specifically designed to make contact with the bumpers of much smaller passenger cars.
The wrap-around windshield, reminiscent of the shape of a racing helmet, blends seamlessly into the side glass to provide an aerodynamic cabin appearance. A cab-forward profile further emphasizes the look of kinetic energy about to be unleashed.
Evidence of the Sport Truck Concept's design continuity can be found as the clean, elegant, muscular body forms are sustained all around the vehicle; for instance, the C-pillar smoothly transitions from the bed to the cabin, providing a distinctively athletic profile.
Even the Sport Truck Concept's doors suggest an active personality. Large side doors open "barn door" style, providing maximum access to the interior. At the rear, a multifunctional, electronically operated tailgate features four positions: the normal or shut position, a semi-retracted position for carrying long items such as surfboards, an open position to effectively extend the bed length, and a fully retracted position, in which the tailgate completely disappears under the rear bed to provide convenient access to the cargo area.
Unique headlight and taillight designs add to the truck's sense of style. The headlamps feature ellipsoid projector lights, projector-style fog lamps and neon turn lamps in a floating bezel. The side mirrors housings are transparent, so while the translucent mirrors reflect what's going on behind the driver's field of vision, the mirrors themselves do not detract from visibility.
The Sport Truck Concept's clean, expressive exterior houses a refined interior finished with high-quality modern materials. The vehicle's four-passenger interior utilizes chic materials that were inspired by contemporary urban lofts, creating elegant forms to produce a highly functional and reconfigurable interior arrangement.
Wide, seamless bench seats trimmed with weatherproof fabric are soft and comfortable, yet also durable and washable. Besides sliding together, the rear seats also "expand" up and out, sliding into the rear bed to offer a thrilling, open-air "jump seat" riding position for fair weather recreational riding. With the seats in their aft-most position, the rear window opens to become a windshield for the rear passengers.
The vehicle's wheels-at-the-corners stance creates a roomy passenger environment that offers panoramic visibility from the cockpit, helped in part by a hood that slopes down at the front, and an instrument panel that seemingly floats away from the firewall, creating an open and spacious feel for the entire cabin. The interior makes use of metallic and metal-finished surfaces that add to the vehicle's sense of purpose, strength and durability. A compact, sporty I/P display appears in front of a metal-finished steering wheel.
To complement the inspiring open-air views, Mitsubishi packed this concept with high-tech components on the inside. The gauge cluster features configurable LCD displays for the driver, with information covering a variety of vehicle systems. The shifter is a dial, and paddle-type steering controls are located on the steering wheel. The clean, simple center panel features CD and MP3 players, among various other audio components. Ample storage spaces are built into the instrument panel, which also features programmable LED lighting.
The innovative Visopia LED lighting system is infinitely variable, with patterns, colors and animations that help create the perfect ambience to suit the truck's occupants. As a result, the interior environment can be converted to convey the proper mood for music, driving, or simply lounging at tailgate parties. Whatever the mood, the Sport Truck Concept exemplifies attitude.